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Connect with our communities with - and about - ICTs

How does your school talk with and involve its community of families and whānau? There will, no doubt, be a range of ways that you inform, discuss and share the learning in your school, from newsletters to parents' evenings.

  • To what extent are you able to extend these conversations using technologies? Why would you?
  • And to what extent do you also need to deliberately involve your community when you talk about how we can use ICTs for learning?

This forum aims to explore ways to make connections with your community using different technologies, and the benefits provided by these connections. Commentators include: Moana Timoko, Janelle Riki and Togi Lemanu (National Blended e-Learning facilitators for Māori and Pasifika).

Until then, check out this snapshot from Enabling e-Learning, in which Principal Dave McShane, teacher Susan Lee, and kaumatua from Te Kura o Kutarere discuss how technologies have helped to engage the local community to support and share students' learning.

Source: Enabling e-Learning: Leadership - Beyond the Classroom


  • Tessa Gray (View all users posts) 03 Sep 2012 2:35pm ()

    Kia ora tatou and welcome to this week’s newest online forum on ways to connect with our wider community – through and about ICTs. It is my pleasure to introduce several key mentors to this discussion, Moana Timoko, Janelle Riki and Togi Lemanu, who are national facilitators for the Blended e-Learning PLD programme - with a particular interest in engaging whānau and Pasifika families.

    Son with parents

    Joining us in this discussion is also Susan Lee, principal of Te Kura o Kutarere, Jane Danielson, principal of Hingaia Penisula School and Valay Raman, senior IT specialist from Finlayson Park School.

    We’d love to hear how you engage, inform and encourage participation with your parents - through the use of technologies, so stop by, introduce yourselves and share a story or two.

    Tess Smile

  • Moana Timoko (View all users posts) 03 Sep 2012 6:53pm ()

    Kia ora koutou

    Ko Moana Timoko tōku ingoa.  Kei Kaikohe tōku kainga noho.  He poutakawaenga au mō CORE Education - Ngā tima Te Marautanga o Aotearoa me Blended e-Learning.

    Te Marautanga o Aotearoa has nine learning areas: Te Reo Māori, Pāngarau (Maths), Pūtaiao (Science), Hangarau (Technology), Tikanga-ā Iwi (Social Sciences), Ngā Toi (Arts), Hauora (Health and Physical Education), Ngā Reo (Languages) and Te Reo Pākehā (English).

    Te Marautanga o Aotearoa aims to develop successful learners, who will grow as competent and confident learners, effective communicators in the Māori world, healthy of mind, body and soul and secure in their identity, and sense of belonging. They will have the skills and knowledge to participate in and contribute to Māori society and the wider world.

    The whānau, the community, and the iwi of learners contribute to their education. For them to experience success, the school, the whānau, hapū, iwi and community must work together effectively and consistently. The curriculum upholds the cultural identity and heritage of learners and their families.

    Schools and kura working with families, whānau, communities and iwi to use Te Marautanga o Aotearoa as the foundation to build a school curriculum or marautanga-ā-kura that reflects their own unique identity, values and vision to meet their students learning needs.

    Ref:  www.minedu.govt.nz

    Te Marautanga o Aotearoa acknowledges whānau as important contributors.  

    Engaging with whānau is a priority!

    A great place to start with the implementation of this curriculum is forming 'Te āhua o ā tātou ākonga' - a graduate profile that acknowledges the aspirations that whānau have for their tamariki.  Whānau have to be engaged in this process - Why?  


    A question was once asked of me...Who do the children belong to?  My holistic response would be something like...everyone has a joint responsibility to look after and care for our young ones, but as a mother....MY CHILDREN BELONG TO ME - Mummy!  I have aspirations for my tamariki and I know that what I think needs to be acknowledged and valued as being important within their education.  I know that I have a responsibility as Mummy to ensure that my children achieve and I know that I need to work with our kura to ensure that happens.  I am an Educated Educator who works in Education.  I am aware of the need to engage with whānau to achieve better outcomes for our tamariki.  

    I'm trying to get to my point...

    Are we as educators fully informing our whānau of the important role and responsibility they have, and that they have the opportunity to have a say in what their children are learning about?  In creating 'Te āhua o ā tātou ākonga' - the Graduate profile - schools need to engage with their whānau.  Traditionally hui have been called - some schools get a good turn out and some do not.  Do we rely on the numbers that attend these hui to create 'Te āhua o ā tātou ākonga' - the Graduate profile OR do we try other ways to engage all of our whānau?  We could arrange home visits, individual meeting times, ph calls and/or letters home.  We may want to introduce a survey about communicative devices/tools our parents may have access to.  I think this is my point...LOL.

    Some questions/ideas to think about - I realise that the links below are very popular and probably 'OLD SCHOOL' now, but they could be used as an opening for communication.

    How can we engage, inform and encourage Whānau participation through the use of technologies?

    Facebook  - check out these Facebook: Facts and Figures


    An overview of Google Docs - Check out Blogger


    Email / Text....We just try several things!!! We set high expectations for communicating, creating links & connections with our whānau and we make the effort...an extra effort to do it!!!!

  • Moana Timoko (View all users posts) 03 Sep 2012 10:14pm ()

    Kia ora anō

    Thought I'd jump back in here and add a post that I shared a while back ...

    I'm thinking about embracing other ways to just get whānau in the school...using ICT to not only share student achievement/notices etc but to assist with basic living tasks, such as paying the household bills, checking bank balances etc.  Having computer/internet access for parents who do not have access at home...running workshops around setting up internet banking, paying bills online, inviting local bankers in to set families up etc... accessing better discount rates because you're paying online....Thinking of simple ways to help families with financial matters and/or budgetting.  Times are hard for many and I'm sure any way of cutting back on household costs would be appreciated.  It wouldn't hurt to have Tea/Coffee facilities set up in a designated space and a little play area for younger children.  Display important notices around the room - with links and instructions to the school newsletters/blogs etc.   

    You'll find more ideas in the discussion post: How can we foster home school partnerships?

    54 posts about improving/enhancing the interactions between home and school - connecting with parents/whanau to improve student learning.

  • Jane Armstrong Bos (View all users posts) 04 Sep 2012 1:00pm ()

    I totally agree with your comment here Moana - there are many families still that don't have Internet access so using the school's resources and inviting parents in is a great way to make connections, upskill parents/whānau, and make school seem a place that they can be involved and have a voice.

    Finlayson Park school are doing just that!! The school have setup a computer lab and fund a teacher aide to provide free lunchtime teaching sessions for parents on how to use computers and access the Internet. Benefits include improved engagement for students and the development of a strong partnership with parents. Check this story and also find out about their after school study centre in Enabling e-Learning on the Home-school partnerships page.

  • Valay Raman (View all users posts) 06 Sep 2012 1:33pm ()

    Thanks Jane. We are certainly putting in the time and resource into connecting with our parents. We have an open door policy and parents are most welcome at anytime to use our computers to view their children's work or use it personally. This is advertised in our newsletters, signage and through student voice. A student will go home and let their parents that his/her work is on display. This allows us to bank in emotional brownie points with the parents that we can use when we discuss poor behaviour, etc. You need to be there to watch their proud faces. The moral of this story is when connecting with parents, connect with them on positive issues and not just the negative ones.

  • Janelle Riki (View all users posts) 12 Sep 2012 5:04pm ()

    Kia ora Valay, I agree, difficult conversations with students are always delivered and received more positively when a meaningful realtionsip has been formed prior.  Also tautoko the need for teachers to engage with whānau about positive issues and also celebrations of achievments and steps forward! Kia ora!

  • Janelle Riki (View all users posts) 04 Sep 2012 2:49pm ()

    Kia ora koutou, ngā mihi maioha ki a koutou. He uri au o Tainui waka, Tainui iwi hoki. Nō Whaingaroa au, e noho manene ana au i raro i te aroha o Te Waipounamu, Ngāi Tahu whānui.  He kaimahi au i te tīma Māori o te rōpū Blended e-Learning.  Nei rā te mihi matakuikui ki a koutou katoa.

    Q.  Do schools reflect their communities or do communities reflect their local school?

    I'm not sure if there is a right or wrong answer to this question, I think it depends on the lens you look through. Or perhaps it's not the right question we should be asking of ourselves!  Ka hoki mai au ki tēnei pātai ākuanei.

    Many schools are challenging themselves to engage better, more appropriately and more meaningfully with their whānau and wider community.  I think that for every community this looks different because each community has it's own unique needs, capabilities and educational aspirations for their tamariki.  So perhaps the place to start is to get to know your whānau and community.  Get out into the community and find out about them, their lives, their work, the local history, the places, the iwi and hapū, the whakapapa of your place and of your people.  If you want to know how to engage more effectively, get out there and learn about the people and the place that give life to your kura.  This means engaging face to face, going to local celebrations, talking to people, visiting marae and significant places, forming personal and meaningful relationships with whānau and members of the community.  In the forefront of your mind should always be the question, how can we best work together to support your child's success?

    Engaging face to face is critical to forming sucessful relationships with Māori whānau however once relationships are formed, engaging with whānau through other means, such as in a virtual sense, can be another successful way to ensure those relationships are positive and collaborative.

    It is important to know that just like in maths and reading, your whānau want to know about how they can support their child's learning in their use of technology to support their learning.  This means educating your whānau and community about technology, how it is being used to support teaching and learning programmes and why it is being used in the ways that it is.

    Secondly it is important to engage with your whānau and wider community through the use of technologies.  This may be in the form of text messages, emails, skype, blogs, websites, e-portfolios, twitter, facebook etc.

    Many schools I work with have many whānau who do not have access to computers or internet access.  This can be a challenge for schools to overcome but it is not a challenge schools should bow down to.  In communities where the use of, or access to, technology is limited, schools should see this as a great opportunity to bring the community into the school!  Provide a space for whānau and community members to have access to computers, have community evenings where tamariki can bring in their whānau and share their learning with them on the computer.  Have whānau workshops on how to use and access the school's website or even just to share general computer skills.  These workshops could be led by your students!  Open the doors to your kura and invite your whānau in so that their tamariki can share with them the world of technology that they live and work in.

    Whānau of Māori tamariki have very clear aspirations for their tamariki and their input and support is vital to achieving educational success.  Engage with whānau about what they would like to be able to see, hear, contribute to, comment on and participate in, in regards to their child's learning.  Formulate a plan about how the school can achieve this and then look for technologies that can support your vision and meet the needs of the whānau, the wider community, the school and the tamaiti.

    Returning to my earlier question: do schools reflect their communities or do communities reflect their local school?  I think it's a reciprocal relationship, each depends on a positive and collaborative relationship with the other.  Schools are part of the community and the community is part of the school.  For our tamariki to grow, shine and stand tall, schools and communities must work in partnership with the needs of the tamaiti at the centre of all that they do.  

    Ko koe ki tēnā, ko ahau ki tēnei kīwai o te kete.  You at that, and me at this handle of the kete.

  • Tessa Gray (View all users posts) 04 Sep 2012 3:11pm ()

    Kia ora and thank you Moana and Janelle, there is loads to think about here - when engaging with family and whānau.

    I see Facebook and Twitter has been mentioned already. Perfect timing >> Edtalks have just uploaded this video of Rachel Boyd (DP and elearning leader at Waiuku Primary School) talking about using Facebook and Twitter to Build community relationships with social media


  • Togi Lemanu (View all users posts) 05 Sep 2012 11:22am ()

    Talofa lava and warm Pasifika greetings, malo lava le soifua ma le lagi e mama.  My name is Togi Lemanu and I a Pasifika BeL facilitator for Te Toi Tupu.  I have been working with several schools to support them with connecting and strengthening relationships with Pasifika families and their communities.  Having a Pasifika Fanau Fono (meeting) is a great start to get the ball rolling and especially to get Pasifika parents on board.  A face-2-face fono to my knowledge is the best way of connecting with Pasifika parents.  Once you have that connection with your Pasfika community embrace it and make the most of it.  Questions/thoughts/ideas I am more than happy to help and support.  

  • Janelle Riki (View all users posts) 12 Sep 2012 5:05pm ()

    Having been priveleged enough to be present at a recent fono to engage with Pasifika fanau, I saw forst hand the powerful and positive impact it had on the schools involved and the fanau that came along.  It's a fantastic place to start!

  • Valay Raman (View all users posts) 07 Sep 2012 9:22am ()


    This is our latest ERO report for 2012. It is reflective of our joint home school vision. Our community is highly valued. Since many may not have internet access at home we decided to create a school radio station to communicate with our parents.

    Our radio station uses 4 languages to communicate. We use Maori, Samoan, Tongan and English. Items are created by students, teachers, parents and visitors to our school. This is a powerful medium to get our message across as it does not infringe on other daily tasks. Parents also love listening to their children's voice.



                                          CONTEXT FOR OUR SCHOOL- CONFIRMED REPORT 11/07/2012

    The important features of this school that have an impact on student learning are:

    Finlayson Park is a Year 1 to Year 8 school, in Manurewa, of nearly one thousand students. The most significant feature of the school is the way that learning programmes reflect the aspirations and values of its largely Māori and Pacific communities.

    Students' home languages, cultures and identity are strongly affirmed and the school curriculum draws on contexts that are culturally relevant.

    The long-serving Principal and Board of Trustees are committed to bi-lingual learning. Bilingual programmes in Te Reo Māori, Samoan and Tongan are complemented by the English mainstream and immersion Te Reo Māori and Samoan language programmes. Trustees support teachers to study second language learning and bilingualism at tertiary level to enhance their vision for high quality bilingual education.

    Students are positive and co operative learners. They are respectful of their teachers and of each other's cultural backgrounds. Te Reo and Tīkanga Māori are evident in all classrooms and the value of rangimārie (caring) is promoted throughout the school. Teachers help students to understand learning processes and work closely with Parents and Whānau to support children's learning at home.

  • Tessa Gray (View all users posts) 07 Sep 2012 1:18pm ()

    Thank you Valay, your school has obviously been proactive about finding ways to connect with your wider community - beyond ‘computers in homes’. Inviting parents into school as well as the radio station are innovative strategies, to positively engage with parents.

    How long has it taken you to set these systems and ideas in place and what have been the parent’s reactions? 

    Sometimes it’s just so hard to get parents into school.....

  • Janelle Riki (View all users posts) 12 Sep 2012 5:07pm ()

    Ngā mihi nui ki a koutou! WOW it sounds like your school is doing fabulous stuff to engage with your whānau and wider community! Thanks so much for sharing and inspiring us all Valay!

  • Glen Tuala (View all users posts) 07 Sep 2012 3:22pm ()

    Talofa all! As a Samoan parent I know food always works really well. Pt England School raffles off small meat packs at the end of Home-School partnership evenings. Always gives the parents just another reason to attend apart from their committed effort to connect with their child's learning. Smile Soifua.

  • Janelle Riki (View all users posts) 12 Sep 2012 5:08pm ()

    I LOVE the idea of the meat packs! How clever of you! Great to hear great stories of success Glen, ngā mihi!

  • Moana Timoko (View all users posts) 12 Sep 2012 6:07pm ()

    FOOD GLORIOUS FOOD!  Northland College (Kaikohe-Northland) often provide food for parent/tch evenings- hot finger foods/sandwiches/tea/coffee - We once had a staff bake off - Inter-house competition and that was great too - the judges were those that attended.

    During Youth Week we also planned a Whānau and Friends meal - with messages hidden under seats - those with messages had to stand and share their yarn about the Youth Week theme.  Could be a fun exercise to do with cell phones...hand in your ph number, phones must be on...receive a text and share a yarn.  

    Youth Week 2013 - May 4th to May 12th - Check out the link for more info - Check out past events - Grants are available for special projects that promote the Youth Week theme - Keep checking at the beginning of 2013 for more info - Google it!

  • janedanielson (View all users posts) 11 Sep 2012 11:30am ()

    Hi all

    My apologies for the lateness of this post, there were issues with previous posts not showing up?!

    As the foundation principal of a new school we have used social media to engage with our community from the time before we had buildings! We use blogs, sites, google suits, email, ibooks and facebook to engage and communicate with our community. We use a variety of push and pull marketing and gather feedback through facebook, blogs and surveys. As we are a high decile school we have no issues regarding access and have had the fortune to be able to start with a 'paperless' communication system (as paperless as we can get it) which is supported by our sustainability procedures.

    I have used facebook and social media in schools for about 3 years now (http://edtalks.org/video/engaging-our-community-through-facebook) and have found it to be an excellent way of communicating with parents and wider school communities. We are able to post links, questions, news, upcoming events etc and to share items immediately with our community. I was, however, surprised that when we had watchdog installed at the beginning of the school year I had to request to have facebook unblocked - apparently "most schools" want it blocked!! Perhaps education is not as 21stC as we think?! 

  • Tessa Gray (View all users posts) 12 Sep 2012 4:53pm ()

    Thanks Jane, for sharing which e-tools you use to connect with parents. As a parent, I would really appreciate this on-going contact. As you’ve noticed some schools prefer to block Facebook, whereas you’re harnessing its potential to connect.

    I’ve just been in the today's LIVE Enabling e-Learning event: Social media and ethics for teachers working online with the Teachers Council (which was fantastic, recording available) and was wondering how you set up protocols and expectations for your teachers - when using these tools?



    Related links:

  • janedanielson (View all users posts) 12 Sep 2012 9:41pm ()

    Thanks Tessa. We did do quite a bit of teacher education around what is acceptable to share in a public forum through brainstorming what we'd be happy to share with our family, our friends, our students, our community, our colleagues. This resulted in most teachers reviewing their privacy settings and making sure they were as secure as they wanted/needed to be before they "liked" the school page. As a staff we discussed "friending" parents and teachers requested it was school procedures not to - this enabled them to say "thanks but no thanks" without offending any of our families and served as another layer of privacy for them. We are fortunate that our students are not old enough to have fb accounts and therefore we couldn't possibly be friends with them because they would not be on fb ;-) Thinking about the school facebook page/blog/twitter as another form of newsletter is a good way to think about what you would want to include on social media.

    As individual teachers we asked teachers to consider their new working environment and whether or not their personal social media communications would support our ethos, values and vision. We have a high trust model and assume the best of everyone, we appointed highly competent e-learning teachers for a reason and to shut this down through policy and procedures would be futile - we go for the educate and trust model here at HPS.

    Way back when I first embarked on the social media in schools journey I found a slide share from Leslie Bradshaw which explores the idea of moving from anonyminity to translucency and the concept of translucency struck me as the way I personally wanted to be online; share some but not all of my thoughts, deeds, dreams … different things for different audiences … have work and personal personas. Her slideshare can be found here http://slidesha.re/OfnYyP. 

    This is a concept I have translated into our school social media image and it is one that I am passionate about protecting, improving and sharing with others!

  • janedanielson (View all users posts) 12 Sep 2012 9:51pm ()

    Here are some links to some of the resources we used at my last school when we began the journey:


     And the Learning at Schools presentation from last year:


  • Togi Lemanu (View all users posts) 12 Sep 2012 1:37pm ()

    There are some really good ideas with engaging our community from time to time, but with our Pasifika parents - my question is - How can Pasifika parents engage in the different social medias?  Do our Pasifika parents have a good understanding and knowledge around the different social medias out there?  Learning for our Pasifika parents/communities to raise social media awareness would be awesome. Smile

  • Kathe Tawhiwhirangi (View all users posts) 12 Sep 2012 3:52pm ()

    I like your thinking here Togi. How might we - as classroom practitioners - consider involving our Pasifika & Māori whānau (all whānau in fact) in the learning that we are facilitating with our students? If we're weaving (for example) Digital Citizenship into our classroom programmes, can this not be shared with our whānau as a weekly update so that both students and whānanu are learning alongside each other? Equally social media...we can facilitate the learning with and alongside our sudents with a goal and expectation being that this learning is applied by facilitating someone elses learning eg. the whānau. In that way, learners are leading learning both in the classroom and 'beyond'. How great would that be? Priceless! Smile

  • Janelle Riki (View all users posts) 12 Sep 2012 5:10pm ()

    Yes agree Togi, it is vital for us as educators to involve whānau in decision making and also educate our communities about technologies as well.  Maybe a Social Media evening in the hall with whānau and children to share the Social Media world!

Join this group to contribute to discussions.

Beyond the Classroom

Beyond the Classroom

Beyond the classroom - Connecting school to the wider community with and about technologies.